Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Wishing all of you a safe and happy holiday season.  I will continue posting my research findings and other events after the new year.  I hope you stop back and see what interesting activities have taken place during the holiday break.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hartley Wood Research: Initial Findings

I have now spent the better part of two weeks looking through the research database.  As a whole, it includes 612 collected specimens encompassing the phyla of Ascomycota (17%), Basidiomycota (78%), and Myxomycota (5%).  There were 130 genera and 199 species identified, not taking into account any repeats  or  unknown specimens found within the collection.  DNA has been extracted from voucher material with nearly 78% confirmed through gel electrophoresis.  The next step will be presenting the findings to my adviser and determining what extracted DNA to sequence.  My hunch is that all of the identified species will be sequenced and submitted into GenBank.  This should include species found within my sampling plots and those found randomly within the research site.  Once their identification has been confirmed using the ITS region of the DNA, a more confident approach can be made toward describing the species richness within the site.  Average temperature, precipitation, and relative humidity at the site during this two year study was examined with no obvious conclusion as to its impacts on the fruiting frequency of observed fungi.  This came as no surprise because most mycologists understand the ephemeral nature of the fruiting bodies and this study was based on collection/documentation of those fruiting structures.  More sorting and sifting through the database should disclose interesting associations among the specimens within the collection.  I will be sure to keep you all up to date on these findings as they become available.  Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bacterial Blotch of Button Mushrooms

I have been backing up my research while preparing for the holiday season "rush" and came across some of my master's research data.  I received my MS degree in plant pathology in the Spring of 2007 and completed the entire program in about 18 months.  I was definitely in a "rush" to complete that program because my wife and I were eagerly awaiting the birth of our daughter Kaia.  The data acquired during that research was quite interesting and the method I developed to determine the severity of disease development for Bacterial Blotch on Agaricus bisporus using imaging software was very exciting.  I have provided a copy of my thesis defense seminar that I presented to the department of plant pathology in May of 2007.  Please click on the title of this post to view the entire PowerPoint slide show.  The image to the upper left shows an assay using the tissue of A. bisporus when challenged with variations of the causal agent, bacterium Pseudomonas tolaasii.  The acronyms for the variations are sterile distilled water (SDW) as a control, wild type (66W), pathogenic isolate (66S), and non-pathogenic revertant (66R).  The image to the middle left shows results of one Agar Well assay used to determine the inhibitory concentrations of hydrogen dioxide (Oxidate) on P. tolaasii grown in culture.  The image on the bottom left shows a histogram of the area of mushroom tissue post inoculation with the 66R isolate.  The results of my research objectives for this project are provided within the slide show and I wish there was audio to accompany it to provide a better understanding of the data.  Perhaps in the future I can re-post this presentation after a commentary has been added.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Potential New Species Discovered

 First, I would like to thank all of you for visiting this blog.  Within the last 30 days, there has been over 200 visitors from 5 different countries.  It is my pleasure providing information about my research and personal life with you all.  In the coming months I aim to post links to additional video clips, including those of me performing some original music.  Please stop back frequently to check for updates.

I am now performing the very tedious task of reviewing all of the unknown specimens in my collection of fungi and identifying them.  Most of this process is accomplished through the use of metadata recorded for each specimen in the collection.  Online sources and field guides are being used to aid in the identification of the majority of these unknowns.  However, there are many fungi within the collection that appear to be unnamed.  The images to the left are three of these potential new species.  The first is an Ascomycete and was only observed once within my research site.  It was growing at the base of a very large oak tree that has recently fallen during a snow storm.  The other two images are of fungi belonging to the phylum Basidiomycota and most likely the family Amanitaceae.  These specimens were observed once this past summer growing in the soils near a trail running through my study site.  When specific characteristics of these fungi were provided to a well known expert in this family, he indicated that he had never seen specimens like this before.  I am therefore extremely interested in pursuing the molecular identification of all three specimens to determine if they have been described and entered into NCBI.  If you would like to help me in the identification of these or future specimens, please e-mail me or leave a comment at the bottom of this post indicating your interest.  Stay tuned for the confirmation of these novel species.